February 25, 2015
1 min read

Study finds only modest improvements for women in academic medicine

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Researchers discovered a known lack in retention of women in academic medicine and gender inequity in compensation as a result of interviews with leadership at medical schools nationwide.

Phyllis Carr and Karen Freund

Karen Freund and Phyllis Carr

Researchers interviewed 44 participants from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Women in Medicine and Science and Group on Diversity and Inclusion, as well as leaders at 24 randomly selected medical schools from the 1995 National Faculty Study.

Themes that were expressed by multiple interviewees were studied for patterns of association.

Five themes were identified: a perceived broad spectrum in gender climate; a lack of uniformity in rank and leadership by gender; a lack of retention of women in academic medicine; lack of gender equity in pay; and a disproportionate burden of family duties and work-life balance on women’s career progression.

The mean age of the Group on Women in Medicine and Science participants was 58 years and, on average, each had been at their institution for 19 years.

The mean age of the Group on Diversity and Inclusion representatives was 55 years and on average they had been at their institution for 18 years.

The researchers cited previous research which highlighted that the hierarchical structure of academic medicine affects women more negatively than men, where women traditionally thrive in a more egalitarian environment.

Several participants acknowledged a lack of data tracking retention and others perceived systematic gender inequity in academic medical salaries.

To increase the numbers of women in academic medicine, mentoring women in managerial roles was suggested by the researchers.

“From our findings, we are concerned that there is complacency around the issues of women in academic medicine and a perception that gender issues have been addressed and are no longer a focus of attention,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers encouraged improved career tracking of women in academic medicine and understanding the reasons why they leave. There is a need for better institutional oversight of advancement, compensation and the overall gender climate for women, according to researchers. –by Abigail Sutton

Disclosures: The researchers reported no financial disclosures.